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Hindenburg Explodes

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Hindenburg Explodes

Published 1937
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Footage from Castle and Pathé coverage of the Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst. Also shots of the big ships over New York.

Run time 0:05:26
Audio/Visual silent, B&W


Reviewer: FYLin - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 27, 2015
Subject: In response to harbrown
No known footage exists of the fire actually starting - this is the longest newsreel footage showing the fire (this footage comes from Hearst News of the Day filmed by James Seeley). The same footage was also used in the Universal Newsreel, because their cameraman ditched the scene due to bad weather to see a Broadway play. Rumor has it he never showed up to work the next day because he knew he was fired.

There is an amateur footage from the spectator area showing a side-rear view of the fire a few seconds before this one but still missing the initial moments of the fire. It's rather poor quality and has not been fully restored (it aired on NBC News last year)
Reviewer: smadaf - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 2, 2007
Subject: In response to AStare
My understanding is (1) that the sound was recorded on a 16-inch disc, not magnetic wire; (2) that Herb Morrison's speech was not really as high-pitched and fast as is commonly perceived, because the recording was made at a slightly lower-than-normal speed but has usually been played back at a normal speed; and (3) that, just after he said "The back motors of the ship are just holding it (uh) just enough to keep it from—it bursts into flames!", the stylus cutting the disc was knocked off the disc by the shockwave and had to be replaced, making a new groove, by Charles Nelson, the recording engineer.
Reviewer: AStare - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 4, 2006
Subject: Herb Morrison Secures his place in history...
Herb Morrison was a media savvy broadcaster with a great amount of talent. But, like any broadcaster, you don't want your best stuff to be lost to the ages. If you listen carefully to the full recording of Morrison's narrative (which was recorded independently of the newsreel, it was later added to the footage at the time of the production of the newsreel) you can hear Morrison say "is this thing on?" to his engineer. Meaning, of course, was the wire recorder that he was using to record his comments turned on and picking up what he had to say. Morrison knew that what he was about to say, at the moment of impact, would go down in history. As spontaneous and as frantic as it sounds, I believe that Herb knew exactly what he was going to say and made sure that it wasn't lost in the frantic melee going on around him.

There is also some question as to whether he says "Oh, the humanity" or "All the humanity". Earlier in the broadcast he was referring to the throng of people waiting on the ground as a "mass of humanity" and an "outpouring of humanity". The ship, which is nearly 3 football fields long, blew up directly above a huge number of people so "All the humanity" would have made sense. Not nearly as poetic, but it made sense.
Reviewer: Mr. Willie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 24, 2006
Subject: The reporter's name is...
(or was) Herb Morrison
He was a reporter for WLS in Chicago and was covering the Hindenburg's arrival in Lakehurst in May 1937 when it exploded.
Reviewer: rmills - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 22, 2006
Subject: Oh The Humanity
The line "Oh, the humanity!" was spoken by the radio reporter who was broadcasting from the scene - unprepared for the disaster, he even had to pause for a moment and shut off his mike while he threw up - unfortunately I cannot remember the reporter's name.

The vocal track of the reporter has often accompanied the film footage in later presentations but the film was shot separately from the radio broadcast. The reason the film "cuts" at the moment of the initial explosion was because the camera man stopped rolling, thinking the big moment of a safe landing had already occurred - as soon as the blast happened he started rolling again.

Historic footage of a by-gone time - but I still hope those wonderful airships return.
Reviewer: harbrown - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 14, 2005
Subject: Not what I was looking for.
First the editing on this film cuts out the point of impact you only see it up in flames. Second this is a silent film. I was looking for "oh the humanity" footage. With that said this film includes some cool shots of successful landings and flying through the New York skyline.
Reviewer: AliceTeeple - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 13, 2004
Subject: wow
This is pretty amazing footage of the Hindenburg. I didn't realise that this wasn't its maiden voyage, either. I can't imagine how horrific it must have been to witness its explosion firsthand. Fantastic piece of history.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 30, 2003
Subject: Oh the humanity etc.
One of the more historically important films on this site, this film, even though it's silent, offers a plethora of interesting facts about the Hindenburg. For one thing, this thing was HUGE. Like massive. And I was under the impression that this was the maiden voyage of the Hindenburg (it was'nt, it had sailed across the ocean 12 times). Once you get that information, the explosion of it just makes you a little more sad. Great footage though. Rather overembelishing cards - "Suddenly - The Fatal Moment!". and the end card gives a "uh huh moment.. "The Pioneer Spirit Of The Hindenburg must go on!" A MUST SEE on the site!
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